The second model in the family of the latest generation of Hyundai i30 is the Tourer estate and we've driven it in likely top-selling diesel guise.
In the metal
Here in Ireland, we love a saloon body style more than anything. And if we can't get a saloon, then our second choice is a hatchback. And a long way behind the hatchback lags the estate. Although practical, upright vehicles with big boots sell well if they're tagged as SUVs or crossovers (see the Hyundai Tucson for details); it seems we just won't take to wagons, for whatever reason. So the new Hyundai i30 Tourer, which joins the i30 five-door that launched at the start of this year, perhaps faces an uphill struggle to win fans over.
It shouldn't, though, because the addition of that larger boot aft of the passenger compartment has transformed the i30's 'handsome but meh' styling into something a little more interesting, chiefly because of the shape of the glasshouse in profile - with its sweeping top-line, it brings to mind a coupe, and that can surely only be a very good thing. We also prefer the rear-end treatment of the Tourer, which is a little more individual and less 'BMW 1 Series' than the five-door.
The Hyundai's real strength, of course, is that it has a whopper of a boot for this segment, standing at more than 600 litres with all the seats in place. That climbs to 1,650 litres with the rear seats folded away, which is more than enough space for any family's needs. It's not the biggest load-lugger in the marketplace, though, as all of the Volkswagen Golf Estate, Skoda Octavia Combi and Peugeot 308 SW have bigger boots; albeit, in the case of the Golf, it's only ever-so-slightly more capacious.
The Tourer drives much like the i30 hatchback, which is to say it is hugely refined and comfortable, with a composed if rather buttoned-down chassis. However, a few things stand out. Firstly, the steering feels better on this Tourer than it did when we first sampled it in the hatchback, although we also drove a 1.4-litre T-GDI petrol hatch and that felt a nicer set-up to use as well, so the suspicious cynic in us wonders if Hyundai has had a fiddle with the settings since the car launched. Either way, the steering is now weightier, more precise and a fraction more communicative, too, all positive outcomes.
Secondly, the ride quality in the Tourer is just a touch more sumptuous than it is for the five-door, which is impressive because the rear suspension is normally firmer on estates to cope with the potential payloads they can carry. Yet, if anything, the Hyundai wagon covers ground in an effortless, fuss-free fashion, and it doesn't turn into a wallowing mess when the roads get twisty and interesting. We're not about to say the i30 Tourer is now one of the most scintillating machines in the segment, but it is capable enough to put it in the 'good' handling category.
We do wonder about the 110hp diesel, though. It's not a bad engine, per se, but it seems to have the laziest flywheel in the entire cosmos. Put it this way, on a long stretch of derestricted Autobahn that came after a 130km/h zone (where we'd set the cruise control to said speed), we blasted up to 160km/h for a brief run, before deciding to drop back to our cruising speed. Up a fair old incline it took the car more than 45 seconds to shed the 30km/h required, which speaks volumes about how reluctant the diesel engine is to rev in the first place and also how little engine braking this motor has. It therefore feels slow for in-gear acceleration, which is remarkable given the supposed 280Nm it has smeared across a low 1,000rpm plateau, and particularly woolly in terms of throttle response.
Our advice is to seriously consider the turbocharged 1.0-litre petrol engine (assuming it's offered in the estate), unless you travel well over 20,000 kilometres a year or spend all your driving time on the motorway.
What you get for your money
Prices for the Hyundai i30 Tourer have not been confirmed at the time of writing, but it should only be a few hundred Euro or so more expensive than the equivalent hatchback, with the same trim levels of Classic, Deluxe and Deluxe Plus continuing. Like the i30 five-door, the Tourer has the same multitude of safety and infotainment kit available to it (either as standard or optionally), and the i30 recently picked up a full five-star Euro NCAP rating under new, tougher crash-testing regulations; Hyundai says it was the first car to do so following Euro NCAP's more stringent examinations.
The Hyundai i30 Tourer is a smart, attractive, well-equipped, thoroughly refined and decent driving new estate car that should compete well in the C-segment wagon marketplace. It has one of the best warranties in the business and the price should make it one of the more affordable offerings in the segment. Seriously consider petrol power, though.